The oracle (Latin Oraculum, " oracle, intercom facility " to " orare ", " speak, pray " ) refers to a recovered with the help of a ritual or a medium transcendent, often divine revelation, which aims to answer future or ruling. The indications and signs obtained by means of the oracle can serve the questioner as a justification own decisions and actions.

In contrast to clairvoyance, which is regarded as individual ability of a real live person, the oracle always consulted a higher authority. Due to the expectation of the answer to a question similar to the oracle removed the prophecy, which usually, but not always given unasked (see below: . To ancient Israel, see Urim and Thummim )

In a broader sense is also the place where the oracle was given, referred to as such. Oracles can be sanctuaries such as temples. The best known example is the oracle of Delphi.


As a practice of predicting oracle had always been a high level of social acceptance. In pre-Christian times, especially in ancient times, oracles were regarded as the dominant form of foresight. The history of the oracle was closely associated in ancient times from the beginning with political decisions and military operations. Even if the oracle already in his wedding was controversial, it is of great importance at that time was given by both supporters and opponents. The oracle as an established practice of predicting was later replaced by prophecies, utopias and forecasts. It did not disappear while, but lost its social and political relevance.

Already in ancient Greece there were oracles, of which the oracle of Delphi is the best known. Other important ancient oracle sites were Ephyra, Olympia, Dodona, Claros, Didyma and the ammonium in the oasis of Siwa (see also fish oracle of Apollo in the Lycian Sura, fish oracle in Carian Labraunda ). They lost since the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD in importance. In a broader sense, the Sibyl of Cumae is expected to be the oracles (see also Astragalorakel ).

Likewise, there have been in Ancient Egypt has always been an oracle. Since the New Kingdom oracles were also used on important legal decisions.

Heavily influenced by the religion of the Etruscans the Romans tried in a state cult, the pontiffs and flamens the future of heavenly signs ( thunder and lightning ), or the flight of birds to fathom. The oracle haruspices created, by reading in the bowels of the sacrificial animals (so-called liver show). The latter went back to Etruscan traditions.

In ancient Israel, there were the Urim and Thummim: Go and oracle stones of the High Priest of the Israelites.

China and Tibet

In China in particular oracle with heated in the fire of animal bones as well as with yarrow stalks were common. Cf Chinese oracle. As part of the Tibetan cultural area can be found both in oracle Bon, the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet, but also in some schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

The first time that a worldly deity with the body of a man was united in Tibetan Buddhism, which functioned as a physical medium, was in the 8th century. One day united Padmasambhava before the king and his ministers, one of the four great kings ( the protectors of the four directions that are often depicted on the doors of Tibetan temples ) with the body of a young man. As he used the boy's body as a medium, clairvoyant deity could identify the spirits that made ​​the trouble. The deity explained that the spirit Thangla was responsible for the lightning strike on the Marpori ( the red hill, which was the seat of the Potala Palace later), and that the Spirit Yarla Shempo had triggered the flood that swept away the Phangthang Palace. Through the medium of the deity gave predictions and advice. As a result, other protective deities were drawn as an oracle to services.

In the Buddhist Gelug school especially the Nechung oracle is known. The Buddhist protector deity Pekar, the former guardian spirit of the Samye Monastery ( built around 775), uses, according to tradition, for more than four centuries regularly a monk as a medium to predict future events and to guide the Tibetan government with advice. The serving as a medium monk therefore has best reputation in the Gelug Order. Due to his frequent, very debilitating oracle trances, but he has only a short life expectancy in most cases. The Nechung oracle is today still the most important state oracle of the Tibetan government in exile and the Dalai Lama. There are at least another oracle which enjoys a certain reputation, the oracle of Dorje Shugden.

Depending on the drawn to rate oracle 's prophecies received may differ. The Tibetan word for oracle is Mo.


There are also so-called oracle or fortune telling cards, which are used for the same purpose. The most popular are the tarot cards are used in a number of different designs. From the Germanic culture are runes known representative.

Hans Magnus Enzensberger designated 1965 the Institute for Allensbach critical as an oracle from Lake Constance, when he saw a "structural similarity with the mantic practices of the Old World ." " Demoscopic surveys are generally added in order: the ignorant man brings the priests of Allensbach its offerings, and stresses that his questions. The Pythia does not answer on your own, they are the questions to a higher court, at the voice of God, the " representative cross-section ", in the jargon of the pollsters. "

Oracle (English pl. " Oracles " ) is also sometimes used in the English language for the Holy Scriptures ( Bible = "true sayings of the Lord" ) and in the terminology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints ( Mormons) are modern, living prophets as "living oracles " ( "living true sayings " [ the Lord ] ) respectively.

As part of the Football World Cup 2010 became the Paul the octopus from the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre international celebrity as he correctly " predicted " all winners by participating in the German national football team and the winner of the final match of the 2010 World Cup.